NEWS
05/16/2016 15:31 EDT | Updated 05/17/2017 01:12 EDT

The Monday news briefing: An at-a-glance survey of some top stories

Highlights from the news file for Monday, May 16:

CANADA'S NEXT ASTRONAUT ANNOUNCED: Quebec engineer and doctor David Saint-Jacques will be the next Canadian to work in space aboard the International Space Station. Saint-Jacques, 46, is scheduled to travel to space aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket for a six-month mission in November 2018. "I promise to live up to your expectations," Saint-Jacques told a group of schoolchildren gathered Monday at an Ottawa museum, where Minister of Science and Innovation Navdeep Bains announced his assignment. Training for Saint-Jacques -- who is a medical, engineering and astrophysics specialist -- begins this summer in Canada, Russia, Japan and the United States.

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CAMPS NORTH OF FORT MCMURRAY BEING EVACUATED: About 4,000 workers from camps north of Fort McMurray were being ordered to evacuate Monday because of an approaching wildfire. The Rural Municipality of Wood Buffalo calls it a "controlled precautionary evacuation" of 12 camps. Workers are being told to head south on Highway 63. Syncrude Canada tweeted that buses are transporting workers to a safe location as part of its emergency plan. The rural municipality says the fire is moving 30 to 40 metres per minute and is expected to burn six kilometres in two hours.

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TRANSGENDER LEGISLATION TO BE TABLED: Legislation to extend human-rights protections to transgender Canadians will be tabled in the Commons on Tuesday, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau confirmed the news in Montreal on Monday as he received an award named after Laurent McCutcheon, a longtime gay-rights activist. Tuesday is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. "We must continue to demand true equality," Trudeau said. "We must carry on the legacy of those who fought for justice by being bold and ambitious in our actions and we must work diligently to close the gap between our principles and our reality."

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ACCUSED ADMITS TO KILLING FIVE YOUNG PEOPLE: Friends and family sobbed and gasped with horror Monday as they heard graphic details about how five young people at a house party were slain by a man who said he believed he was killing Medusas and werewolves for the son of God. Matthew de Grood, 24, admitted in an agreed statement of facts read at the start of his first-degree murder trial that he stabbed his victims. Court heard he told police he didn't take pleasure in it. De Grood's lawyer, Allan Fay, pleaded not guilty on his client's behalf. Fay told reporters he plans to argue his client was not criminally responsible for the killings.

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PREGNANT WOMAN DIES IN SHOOTING: A premature baby delivered via emergency C-section shortly before its mother died from gunshot wounds is in stable condition, Toronto police said. They appealed to the public for help identifying those responsible for the "outrageous" death. Police said Candice Rochelle Bobb, of Mississauga, Ont., died late Sunday night when she was shot while returning from watching a basketball game. They said the 35-year-old woman was in a vehicle in the city's northwest end with three other people at the time of the shooting. The occupants of the vehicle were not known to police, but officers said the vehicle was the clear target of the shooting.

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AIR QUALITY AT DANGEROUS LEVELS IN FORT MCMURRAY: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the air quality in sooty, hazy, fire-damaged Fort McMurray is at dangerous levels, and is hampering efforts to get residents back to their homes. The air quality heath index — a measure of smoke, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide — is so saturated with contaminants that it is off the charts, Notley told a news conference in Edmonton. Notley said the scale is normally one to 10, with 10 being the worst, but the reading on Monday morning was at 38.

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BAD START TO FIRE SEASON: An expert says this year's start to the wildfire season doesn't necessarily mean the trend will continue into the summer. John Innes, the dean of forestry at the University of British Columbia, says weather is the largest influence on wildfires. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has said the intense and early start to wildfires this year could spell a long and difficult season for all of Canada and not just for Alberta, which is still reeling from the disaster in Fort McMurray. Innes says 2016 has been the most destructive fire season so far in recorded history. Claire Allen of the BC Wildfire Service says the biggest determinant of the latter portion of the fire season on the West Coast is the amount of rain that falls in June.

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HOW SECRET SHOULD THE NO-FLY LIST BE?: The public could be a step closer to knowing a federal secret: the number of people on Canada's no-fly list. A judge has ordered Transport Canada to revisit two Access to Information requests — one for the total number of people on the list, the second for the number of Canadian citizens. Transport invoked a section of the access law shielding information whose release could interfere with the conduct of international affairs, as well as the detection or prevention of terrorist activities. Federal officials argued the information could help terrorists plot an attack on an airliner. Federal Court Justice Simon Noel says Transport did not back up its argument that international relations with the U.S. and others would be harmed by release of the numbers.

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AGING EAST PRESENTS HEALTH CARE CHALLENGE: With populations that are among the oldest in the country, Atlantic Canada's premiers say they need a health accord with Ottawa that reflects the reality of their health care challenges. Following their annual meeting Monday in Annapolis Royal, N.S., the premiers said the current per capita funding formula instituted by the former Conservative government doesn't serve their needs. "We've all been clear that funding health care on a per capita basis doesn't work for Atlantic Canada," said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil. "We need to take into account demographics and chronic disease management."

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OILPATCH CONCERNS AFTER PENN WEST WARNING: Concerns mounted in the oilpatch after one of Calgary's oldest oil and gas production companies warned it was facing the possibility of defaulting on its debt by the end of next month. Penn West Petroleum Ltd. (TSX:PWT) said it could be in violation of its agreements with its lenders by June 30 if it can't negotiate some form of loan relief. The firm, the latest member of the oilpatch to face a showdown with lenders amid depressed crude prices, said it has hired investment banking firm Rothschild Group and accounting company PwC as advisers to try to ease its loan conditions.

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ACCUSED SAYS HE CAN'T RECALL WHERE GUN BURIED: A man accused of killing Tim Bosma told court Monday he buried a gun he believes was used to kill the Hamilton father in a forest — but although he doesn't remember the location, it wasn't a "magical forest," as suggested by the lawyer for his co-accused. Under hours of cross-examination by Dellen Millard's lawyer, Mark Smich said remembers taping the gun, putting it in a bag and cycling to a forest to bury it. But Smich said he couldn't remember a single detail about the ride, why he taped the gun, or even if he passed any landmarks along the way.

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TRUMP EXPECTS POOR RELATIONSHIP WITH UK: U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump says he may have a poor relationship with Prime Minister David Cameron in light of the British leader's criticism of Trump's call for all Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the United States. Trump's comments, broadcast Monday on ITV's "Good Morning Britain," made headlines in Britain. Trump's suggestion of a temporary Muslim ban led to a petition signed by half a million people demanding that Parliament hold a debate on whether he should be banned from the country. Lawmakers held the debate, but rejected a ban. Cameron has refused to retract comments describing Trump's proposed Muslim ban as "divisive, stupid and wrong."

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SINEAD O'CONNOR FOUND SAFE: Police in suburban Chicago say Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor was found safe Monday after officers received a report that she never returned from a Sunday bike ride in the area. Wilmette police spokesman Eric Peterson said O'Connor had been located, "is safe and no longer considered a missing or endangered person," though he wouldn't say where she was found or release details about her condition. Local police issued a well-being check for O'Connor earlier Monday, saying someone called to report that she hadn't been seen since leaving for a bicycle ride early Sunday morning.